EPL Predictions: Picks, Top Players for Week 2 Premier League Fixtures

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2017

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 2-0 during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on August 13, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United rounded off the opening weekend of the 2017/18 Premier League season with an emphatic win over West Ham United on Sunday. On Saturday, they will be one of the first two sides in action, away at Swansea City.

Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba inspired the Red Devils to a 4-0 victory against the Hammers in Week 1, sending Jose Mourinho's men to the top of the pile. Swansea will be hoping to bring them back down to earth in the early kick off with a strong showing at the Liberty Stadium.

The clash of the gameweek will see Tottenham Hotspur host Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, with the latter looking to recover from a disappointing defeat to Burnley. On Monday, Everton will visit Manchester City in another eye-catching contest.

Here are the fixtures for the second round of matches and a focus on three players primed to make the difference for their respective teams.

        

Saturday, August 19

12:30 p.m.: Swansea City vs. Manchester United, 1-2

3 p.m.: Bournemouth vs. Watford, 1-1

3 p.m.: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace, 2-1

3 p.m.: Burnley vs. West Bromwich Albion, 1-1

3 p.m.: Leicester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion, 2-0

3 p.m.: Southampton vs. West Ham United, 1-0

5:30 p.m.: Stoke City vs. Arsenal, 1-3

      

Sunday, August 20

1:30 p.m.: Huddersfield Town vs. Newcastle United, 2-1

4 p.m.: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea, 2-0

       

Monday, August 21

8 p.m.: Manchester City vs. Everton, 2-1

 All times BST.

         

Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on August 13, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Ph
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

United paid £75 million to bring in Lukaku from Everton this summer in the hope he would swing matches in their favour. The barrel-chested Belgian did exactly that against West Ham.

The striker latched on to a through pass in the first period and finished with conviction before nodding home from a set piece in the second half. Lukaku was alert, physical and linked up well with Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

B/R's Rob Blanchette praised an excellent all-around performance from the 24-year-old striker against the Hammers:

Lukaku will not want to waste the momentum from this exceptional start to the season, and you sense he'll be ready to give the Swansea defence a torrid time on Saturday. That, despite a strong start to the season for the Welsh outfit, who drew 0-0 at Southampton.

But the new Red Devils No. 9 has enough to pose plenty of problems for United's upcoming opponents. Lukaku has netted throughout his career, which is an ominous proposition for the rest of the Premier League.

        

Dele Alli, Tottenham

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St. James Park on August 13, 2017 in Newcastle upon T
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

While Dele Alli didn't turn in the most rounded performance of his career against Newcastle United on Sunday, the 21-year-old was once again decisive for Spurs.

Not only did he keep his cool in the incident that saw Jonjo Shelvey sent off for the hosts—the Magpies man trod on Alli's ankle—but the Tottenham star also grabbed the crucial opening goal. It was a trademark run into the box from the England man, who volleyed home an exceptional Christian Eriksen cross.

As noted by former Tottenham striker Gary Lineker, Alli has a tendency to come alive in advanced areas:

Chelsea know that all too well. In this fixture last season, the Eriksen-Alli combination worked to great effect on a couple of occasions, with the latter crossing twice for the former to score. They will fancy repeating that trick again, especially after Chelsea's collapse against Burnley.

It will be Tottenham's first Premier League game at Wembley and they will be desperate to get off to a strong start. Alli can be the man who inspires Mauricio Pochettino's side to another three points.

        

David Silva, Manchester City

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  David Silva of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at Amex Stadium on August 12, 2017 in Brighton, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Manchester City have invested heavily this summer in all areas of the squad, although manager Pep Guardiola is still reliant on some stalwarts. David Silva remains a vital part of the side.

Against Brighton & Hove Albion in their opening game of the season, City were finding it tough to break through the promoted club's tight defensive shape. That was until Silva produced an excellent first-time pass into the feet of Sergio Aguero, who put the visitors ahead.

It was the type of moment Silva has consistently conjured for his team down the years. As these numbers from Squawka Football show, he makes things tick for City:

You sense he will have to do a similar job against Everton on Monday. Although the Toffees may be a little more ambitious in their play, like most sides who head to the Etihad Stadium, defending strongly and maintaining their shape will be a priority.

Patience and probing will be required for City to come through this one with another three points. In those sorts of encounters, there is no better player to have on your side than the Spaniard.

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